Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CeeSaw whiffs on a fat pitch as council considers expanding the booze zone.

In today's One Southern Indiana Newspaper*, reporter Daniel Suddeath provides coverage of a proposed amendment before the city council. The amendment to G-06-15, which established the Riverfront Development Project Area's boundaries five years ago and made possible the issuance of special three-way licenses, would expand the area as pictured and described above.

We all agree: Apart from developer/builder Steve Resch, G-06-15 is the primary reason for a downtown dining district evolving in New Albany.

“Let’s make no bones about it — the riverfront liquor license program has been an excellent, effective incentive for New Albany to establish what we’re now referring to as our downtown dining district,” (Carl) Malysz said.
Not unexpectedly, councilman Bob "Downtown by Accident" Caesar, while expressing tepid support for the expansion measure, displays confusion as to the reasoning for it:

Councilman Bob Caesar said he will likely vote in favor of expanding the district, but added city planners and officials should be wary of the state’s intentions for approving the riverfront licensing program. He added that while he’s not opposed to patrons safely enjoying an alcoholic beverage, he believes the “city wants to see families with their kids walking out on the street.”

“The need here is restaurants, not more bars,” Caesar said. “This was done so that restaurants could serve liquor, that’s what you want. It does no good at all to have bars that can serve a bratwurst.”
Perhaps I might begin dispensing professional advice about diamonds, seeing as I comprehend so little about them. Let's go down the list ...

First, not only does G-06-15 contain language about food sales percentages at establishments using the special three-way (I'll provide exact wording once I've located the ordinance, which does not seem to be on-line), the state of Indiana always has stipulated that permit holders, including bars, must have foodstuffs available at all times. Given that these mandated edibles might constitute a moldy package of bologna, having bratwurst available would be a giant leap forward for foodie (and New Albanian) civilization.

Second, while it is touching to note Caesar's concern for families, I'm not sure that "kids walking out on the street" has as much to do with three-way alcohol permits as with the overall state of the street grid in the context of systematic traffic control and calming, which of course would be greatly facilitated by two-way streets -- and (surprise) Caesar has yet to publicly clarify his oddball, self-aggrandizing position on such matters as it applies to his own commercial interests versus the remainder of the city's.

Third, rather than Caesar resorting to perpetuating the stereotypical teetotaler's notion that bars somehow are guilty of malicious intent from inception, while steadfastly refusing to define his terms (i.e., are we talking dive bar or specialty martini bar?), Caesar might ask harder and better questions: With an ongoing shortage of housing conversions and retail, do we really need more restaurants downtown?

If so, why, and for what purpose? Suddeath's article provides a hint from the mouths of City Hall:

" ... There are some projects in the works that would benefit from having liquor licenses at the ready."

Sounds to me like a follow-up question waiting to happen, one that Mike Kopp would be able to answer -- and I'll wager Dan Coffey asks it come Thursday evening's meeting.

*Over the years, NAC has directed a huge volume of web traffic toward OSIN's web site via links, but this morning, feeling surly, I don't feel like providing a link that will result in the reader being afflicted by a pop-up ad.

1 comment:

Iamhoosier said...

How many "brat bars" have opened under the special permit? Conners, now closed, seemed to be way more bar than food even though they tried a few different things with the food. I've not been to the Irish Exit.

La Rosita, La Bocca, River City Winery, Habana Blues, Wicks, Toast, Bank Street & some that I'm forgetting are all full service restaurants.